With the appointment comes the end of the brand's agency-of-record relationship with Silver & Partners, formerly known as Amalgamated. Peter Kaye, who took on the post of Honest Tea's VP of marketing and communications in early 2011, hired the shop in early 2012. In August, Amalgamated CEO Brian Martin left the indie New York-based shop to join Project Worldwide. A month later, when chief creative officer Eric Silver became a majority owner, the agency changed its name.
Michael Stefanski, managing director at Silver & Partners, said, "From the time that Coca-Cola started to get involved in the decision-making process on Honest Tea it was clear we had strong differences about creative direction. It was a mutual decision to part ways. We sincerely wish them the best."
Honest Tea's Mr. Kaye added, "Amalgamated was Honest Tea's first agency of record, and when we parted ways we left the door open to working together again."
Prior to hiring Amalgamated, the brand had done most of its advertising internally or with the help of agencies on a project basis. It's going back to that project model with Mullen, which will support strategy and creative development on a new digital campaign. However, there is an opportunity for the relationship to grow beyond the campaign.
"We are starting with one brand-focused campaign, and we're optimistic that both this campaign and our partnership with Mullen will grow beyond its initial scope," said Mr. Kaye.
He cited the shop's strength in working with challenger brands such as Jet Blue and Zappos.
Mullen will work alongside Ikon3, the agency handling media planning and buying services on behalf of the brand.
Coca-Cola first took a stake in Honest Tea in 2008, adding the brand to its Venturing and Emerging Brands unit. Three years later the company exercised its right to acquire the company outright.
Still, the brand has intentionally kept its measured media budget small, preferring guerrilla marketing tactics like Honest City.
Last year Honest Tea launched its first national campaign, working with Amalgamated. It spent $1.5 million in measured media last year, according to Kantar Media.
Contributing: Natalie Zmuda